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Sierra Club Insider February 15, 2005

Mercury Rules Rigged
smokestacksWondering whether you have any capacity left for outrage? Try this on for size: According to a February 3 report by the EPA's Inspector General Nikki Tinsley, EPA political appointees set "modest" new mercury pollution limits that just so happened to coincide with those in President Bush's "Clear Skies" proposal. They then told EPA scientists to work backwards to justify those limits.

She also found that the EPA did not adequately evaluate the environmental health effects of the proposed rule on children.

"Rather than basing its decision on good science, the administration stacked the deck to give its industry friends what they wanted," says Nat Mund, a Sierra Club clean-air expert.

One in six American women has mercury levels in her blood high enough to put her baby at risk from mercury poisoning. Find out how mercury makes it from the smokestack to your dinner plate.

Judge Upholds Wolf Protection
wolfNot everyone is ignoring science. District Judge Robert E. Jones in Portland ruled on January 31 that the actions of Interior Secretary Gale Norton to downlist the gray wolf and prematurely end the federal wolf recovery program in the eastern United States were unlawful. The eastern gray wolf was one of the original animals on the Endangered Species List.

The Sierra Club and 18 other conservation groups argued successfully that the federal government has a duty to uphold the intent of the Endangered Species Act to recover populations of at-risk fish and wildlife.

Three Ways to Save the Arctic Refuge
polar bear costumePresident Bush's new budget assumes revenues from drilling in the Arctic Refuge, but he can't call in the oil companies without an OK from Congress. That's where you come in. Here are three ways to help protect the Arctic Refuge from drilling.

1. Host an Oil on Ice house party on Saturday, March 12. People across the country will be gathering to watch this compelling new film that connects the fate of the Arctic Refuge and the communities that depend on it to the decisions about America's energy policy. Sign up now to host, and we'll supply the DVD (limited quantities).

2. Join the tens of thousands of Americans who have signed our petition to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calling for a comprehensive national energy plan that protects the Arctic.

3. Call your senators and representative on the toll-free Arctic Action Hotline: 1-888-8WILDAK (894-5325)

(P.S. That's Lisette Fee and Tara Lewis of the Alaska Wilderness League carrying their polar bear costume to a rally on the mall in Washington launching the Arctic wilderness bill in Congress.)

Kyoto Kicks In
Tomorrow (February 16), the Kyoto Protocol to limit global warming emissions goes into effect, despite the absence of the United States. The 128 signatory nations will have a legal obligation to reduce emissions.

For the protocol to come into force, two conditions had to be met -- first that 55 percent of signatories ratify it, second, that those signatories account for 55 percent of global warming gases worldwide. Once 122 states ratified, the first condition was fulfilled, but it wasn't until Russia, which emits 17 percent of the world's carbon dioxide, OK'd the protocol last September that the second condition was met.

The United States walked away from Kyoto in 2001, claiming that the costs of complying would be too high. The United States emits 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide.

Think the U.S. should take global warming seriously? Sign our petition and turn up the heat on the Bush administration.

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  See You in September

Mark your calendars -- September 8-11 -- for the Sierra Summit 2005 at San Francisco's Moscone Center, the largest-ever gathering of Sierra Club members.

We've got entertainment -- comedian Bill Maher headlines Saturday night and Arianna Huffington will speak Sunday at lunch -- and an exposition featuring more than 150 green and outdoor businesses. Panels and workshops will cover everything from outdoor adventure to smarter ways to work for the environment. Plus, 1,000 delegates from Sierra Club chapters, groups, and other committees will convene to chart the Club's future.

To find out more and register, go to

Sierra Summit logo  
  Test Your Eco-Literacy

Think you know your natural history? Answer all five questions in Sierra magazine's eco-literacy contest correctly, and you could win $1,000 toward a spot on one of more than 350 trips offered by Sierra Club Outings.

Question #1: How do 500-pound musk oxen defend themselves against attacks by smaller, nimbler predators such as pack wolves?

  The Big Timber Grab

The best way to protect a forest ecosystem such as Giant Sequoia National Monument from destructive fires is brush removal and prescribed fire (which is how the National Park Service does it in nearby Sequoia National Park). But the U.S. Forest Service insists that they also need to log thousands of larger trees from the Monument. In fact, they plan to fill up to 3,000 commercial logging trucks with timber a year. That's almost a truck every three hours!

The Sierra Club is collecting signatures on a petition to Chief Dale Bosworth of the Forest Service asking for an end to plans for commercial logging in the Giant Sequoia National Monument.


smokestack (Royalty-Free/Corbis) | wolf (Tracy Brooks/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) | musk ox (Tom & Pat Leeson) | polar bear costume (John McComb) | sequoia (National Park Service)